Tomorrow is Clean Monday…

Cleaned out our fridge except for a few dairy items that D can eat when he gets home tonight, but trying to get ready for Clean Week and first week of Lent. This is our second Lent as Orthodox and I’ve really tried to prepare spiritually and emotionally for the “Bright Sadness” of Lent. I know that I am going to struggle because our eating habits aren’t the greatest, but I am still hopeful about learning to depend less on food for comfort and weed out the passions in my life.

Three years ago this time of the year, I met my husband, who was just about to become Orthodox and was following Lent. He followed a strict diet while I ate dairy and meat by his side. He must have really loved me to still have wanted to date me while I was eating without restraint! I tried to fast before services and, slowly, but surely, started following a stricter diet.

Last year I really enjoyed this time before Pascha to restrain myself and focus more on prayer. The weeks of preparation before Lent were so special. We read from Hopko’s “Lenten Spring” and Schmemann’s “Great Lent” and listened to many podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio during the weeks before. I drank smoothies with kale and almond milk everyday, and we got used to steamed veggies, rice, beans, and tofu dishes.

Last Sunday we ate BBQ for our last meat meal, and this Sunday we ate at a brunch place. D had French Toast and I had grilled cheese.

I’m going to try to document our Lenten meals on this website, especially for helping with future Lenten cooking and recipe storage. Maybe this will even help others as you try to find the balance of extravagant Lenten cooking that we struggle with.

Our first Lenten meal is kind of a hodgey-podgy accident. I’ve been cleaning out the pantry and putting chicken soups and broths into a bag in the garage. I looked up some recipes and made a list of vegan ingredients we need to buy. I came across this recipe on this blog (“What I’m Cooking Now”) and was excited to find that I already had some of the ingredients. I knew we needed something to bring for lunch tomorrow, so thought I’d give it a shot.

Here’s the recipe: (find my adaptations below)…

Lenten Cauliflower Rice

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt or to taste (I used Adobo seasoning salt)
1/8 tsp red pepper
2 C long grain white rice
4 C water
1 15 oz can chickpeas
olive oil

In a 5 quart dutch oven, saute the cauliflower over high heat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it is golden. Add in the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add in the salt, pepper and rice and stir until all the grains of rice are coated with the oil. Continue sauteing the rice for 30 or 40 seconds. Stir in the water and chickpeas, bring to a full simmer, lower heat to just barely simmering, cover and let cook for 20 minutes.

I only had about half a head of cauliflower so scrounged in my freezer to see what else I could come up with. I had a half a bag of frozen sugar snap peas and a half a bag of frozen okra. Ha! What a combination!? I threw them into about an inch of water to steam them, then sauteed them (as seen above) in the onions, garlic and oil before adding the rice to saute with the spices. I added two tablespoons of Coconut Curry powder and salt and pepper.Also, I used wild rice since I prefer it to white rice.

Here’s how it turned out…very, very tasty, even with the slimy green vegetables I was forced to use! 😛 I think it will be a great first Lenten dish of the year!